Sunday, October 31, 2004


We went apple-picking yesterday here. It was unseasonably warm--80 or so here--but it was breezy and pleasant on the mountain. Even with the pickings rather slim (that cliché suddenly made sense) we brought home 25 pounds of apples in about an hour's picking. And the cake I made last night only called for one! So we'll have to find more things to do with apples--though. really, just putting them in lunchboxes seems fine to me.

It was a glorious drive out. While we don't have the kind of fall color here that I remember from New England, the colors are pretty vibrant this year--did all the rain make a difference? And the afternoon sun through the leaves made them glow, as if they were lit up from within. I don't know if anyone else noticed: Mark was grading, Mariah was under her headphones, and Nick was drawing. It made for a quiet drive out. But everyone was happy, the apples were good, and the sun was shining.

They make these doughnuts at Carter Mountain that remind me of ones my grandmother used to make--deep fried and then dipped in cinnamon-sugar. They claim to put apple cider in but somehow I doubt that's the main ingredient. Anyway, they're worth going off South Beach for.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

new column

Though I'm still the midlife mama here, my column over at Literary Mama has changed. Now it's the Children's Lit Book Group, and the first one is up. Let me know what you think! And check out all the new columns--there's some great stuff over there.

the life I'm not leading

The other night Mark and I watched "Rivers and Tides," a documentary about sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. I hadn't heard of Goldsworthy before, but you can see some of his work here: Eyestorm. (Elsewhere, too, but you can google just as well as I can.)

Goldsworthy seems to me to live an admirable life, following his muse, working at his art both at home and in residencies all over the world. In the documentary there's no mention of grant-writing, and only brief mention of lecturing about his work, though I imagine he has to spend a lot of time doing those things. In the movie, though, he seems to be able to spend all his time doing his art. (Oh, and somehow he has four kids, too. His wife didn't look harried or anything, really.)

I'm sounding snide and I don't mean to. His work is lovely, and his life is admirable, and I guess I wish at some level that I had that, too. But how does one get that life of just working on art? That's what I want to know. How long does it take? How much (in terms of time, money, love, etc.) does it cost?

Can you tell I haven't been making time to write lately? That must be what this is about. See the film, though--it's a fascinating exploration of an artist's life and work. And it made me want to move to Scotland.

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Lambeth Commission On Communion - Home Page

The Lambeth Commission On Communion - Home Page

The Lambeth Commission was established in October 2003 by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the request of the Anglican Primates. The mandate spoke of the problems being experienced as a consequence of the above developments and the need to seek a way forward which would encourage communion within the Anglican Communion. It did not demand judgement by the Commission on sexuality issues. Rather, it requested consideration of ways in which communion and understanding could be enhanced where serious differences threatened the life of a diverse worldwide Church. In short, how does the Anglican Communion address relationships between its component parts in a true spirit of communion?

I haven't had time to read the report, but I can already tell that it will try my patience. My dad reminds me that the Episcopal church didn't split over the issue of slavery in the 1860s, as so many Protestant denominations did; he is hopeful that we will not split over the issue of human sexuality either. But sometimes I wonder if maybe we should have split over slavery. Did we make a deal with evil in order to stay united? Will we again?

I don't know. But I do know that this issue is causing great grief among people of faith. I am somewhat bewildered by it, myself, as the "issue" of gays and lesbians in the church is a non-issue for me: they're here, they're human, they're included. Fully. That's how it seems to me.

But it's late at night and I've watched too much baseball in the last two days to be coherent, so that's all I'm going to say about it for now.


MomBrain: "It scares me that the Republican Party has been hijacked by right-wing nutjobs and Pharisees.

It scares me that Bush and his followers think he's the mouthpiece of God.

It scares me that Republican politics is about nothing more than abortion and gay rights."

I'm scared, too, MomBrain, and rather than make up my own post I'm linking to yours to get more people thinking.

The New TV

We bought a new TV this weekend, Mariah and I. We went out to Target intending to return some things, look at some others, and maybe look at the TVs. We've been talking about a new TV for a while--the one we had was bought at Sears in 1989 (maybe early 1990), and had decided to provide its own letterboxing for almost everything. Only the letterbox simply cut off the top of the picture. It was great for watching people hit ground balls, not so good for anything else. The debates were amusing--no one had a head. Sometimes the head appeared but the neck was somehow folded so the head just sat on top of the foreshortened body. You get the idea. It was unreliable. Frustratingly, it would sometimes work for hours in a row, then inexplicably shrink the picture just as you were getting used to the idea that it might work. That finally got old. Especially when Mariah just began borrowing my computer to watch DVDs.

We didn't get the TV at Target. They have lots of cheap TVs, any one of which would probably have been just fine, but they are huge. To get a TV with a 20+ inch screen anymore it seems you have to be willing to have something, oh, three or four feet deep. We have a small living room. We wanted something not so huge. We wanted the TV not to take over the living room, not to be the focal point. These big hulking things would have demanded attention, would have dominated the room.

So, in an irony that is lost on none of us, we ended up buying a far pricier flat-panel TV at Circuit City. Yes, we spent more than twice as much money on a TV than we needed to, because we don't want TV to be too important. Um, right. Anyway it's really cute and you can see the whole picture and it's not too obtrusive. And it's a good thing Mark and I are both working, so we can pay for things like this. It's also a good thing, I think, that he was busy on Saturday when Mariah and I went out--we made the decision all by ourselves, and though it took trips to four stores, we were still relatively efficient and decisive. That might not have been the case if we'd all gone together.

We still need a new refrigerator (this one is over ten years old, but we're not quite sure how much more...because we can't remember, not because we didn't buy it ourselves). And a new stove, probably--we've been in this house ten years now, and the stove was surely nowhere near new when we moved in. But the stove is the least of our worries--it's merely ugly, while the fridge is dripping inside and will probably not keep things cold much longer. Blecch.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

more on the family and the academy

I enjoyed Laura's blog conference over at 11D last week. It got me thinking: how do we really balance work and family, my friends and I? My references are pretty much all in the academy. I have a lot of friends who are tenured women with kids, even though I hear that statistically we're a pretty small group. And even though I can easily name, oh, half a dozen such women, I've noticed that we all have one thing in common: our husbands have, willingly or not, become career-secondary. This seems to be true, I should add, for the tenured men with kids I know--their wives are also career-secondary. But it's less surprising, and more socially acceptable, for women to put their careers on hold for a while (or give them up altogether) as they raise their children. These men I'm thinking of have given up careers, or simply not sought them with the same kind of ambition as their wives. They have jobs (sometimes more than one); they may even have good jobs, or careers, but their work is somehow secondary--lower-paying, less desirable, more flexible--than their wives' tenured positions. And that, I believe, is what has made tenure+kids possible for these women.

In our case I think it works ok, but there are always negotiations. We're making things up as we go along because we don't have a template for what we're doing--we know others who are making it up too, but very few (if any) ahead of us who've done it. So it's interesting to see how things work out, day after day. Luckily we are on fall break right now (two school days off) so we get a little time to breathe, to take stock--and to catch up.

go away greenwood sports

the most annoying spammer of the week, with 7-10 e-mails a day. I DON'T WANT A TRIP TO FLORIDA!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Is the academy family-friendly? And other important questions...

Check out this discussion at the blog, 11D:

Several factors are conspiring to make academia a particularly hostile place for parents. 1) The level of competition for jobs means that universities have no need to accommodate individuals with family responsibilities. 2) Most women don’t finish their dissertations until their mid thirties and don’t secure tenure until their forties. Too late to start a family. 3) The profession is traditionally male, and women don’t feel comfortable asking for a special room to breastfeed or for paid maternity leave. 4) There are no adequate part-time options for parents. Adjuncting doesn't pay for the babysitter.

Your thoughts?

Monday, October 04, 2004


I went to a writers' conference this past weekend--the James River Writers' Festival. My first one ever. So, I hadn't quite realized that such things are mostly about--well--selling your writing. There was some about craft, of course--some interesting panels with writers who had, for example, written fascinating non-fiction books. I think somehow it's easier to talk about craft with non-fiction. You can talk about interview techniques, how to develop an article into a book, constructing a single narrative out of multiple threads, working with a variety of source materials, etc. These things are there in fiction as well, or things like them, but somehow it seemed as if the basic approach to fiction was, "I just think up a story and write it down." This may not be fair--I didn't go to the panel on setting in the novel, for example. But the one on writing for middle grade and YA readers was all about marketing, and so was the one on inspirational writing. So there.

Still, it was interesting. I even got five minutes with an agent--who said my idea had promise but needed work. Yeah, that's what they all say.